PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema has directed the Zambia National Service (ZNS) to double its current output of white maize and soya beans by 2025, Defence Minister Ambrose Lufuma has said.
And Mr Lufuma urged ZNS to speedily bring Lisutu and Luwashi irrigation projects in Chirundu and Mufulira under production.
He said this yesterday when he commissioned heavy earth-moving machinery and agricultural equipment worth more than K18 million procured by ZNS to enhance efficiency in wheat production at the ZNS Chongwe farm.
He said the move was special in that it signalled enhanced road infrastructure development and improved agricultural production by ZNS.
“For a start, the combine harvesters we are commissioning today are a very important tool in the efficient and effective mopping up of our grain,” Mr Lufuma said.
He said the acquisition of two modern agricultural machinery at a cost of US$426,000 (K6.8 million) and heavy-duty earth-moving equipment at a cost of K11.2 million would boost production at the farm.
Mr Lufuma said Government was elated to note that ZNS had continued to reposition itself to be a reliable tool of Government in the construction of various all-weather earth works.
He said that the Government had placed high premium on the commercialization of the agricultural sector.
He said that the Government felt encouraged seeing ZNS supporting its efforts through the purchase of two multipurpose combine harvesters.
“It must be further appreciated that with the raging war in Ukraine, there is an awakening wave among many African countries regarding the need to grow more food,” Mr Lufuma said.
Mr Lufama said that the Government was in a hurry to leverage the skill-set endowment by ZNS and its military discipline and commitment to duty to significantly improve the nation’s rural roads, dams and airstrip infrastructure.
He urged ZNS to remain resilient and steadfast in its quest to turn the land development branch into a major economic player.
“My ministry is looking to ZNS to assist raise my ministry’s contribution to our country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and subsequently create job opportunities for our youth,” Mr Lufuma said.
ZNS commander, Lieutenant General Maliti Solochi said his institution was continuously working on improving its contribution to the development agenda of the nation especially to the national food basket infrastructure development.
Gen Solochi said the service was continuously working at improving wheat production to build on the agricultural production portfolio of the country.
He said that the same was partly demonstrated by the procurement of two combine harvesters, two excavators and six tipper trucks that were able to undertake agriculture and a wide range of earth works in real time.
He said that ZNS was working on adapting modern and more rewarding practices in line with President Hichilema’s directive that it took agricultural production as a business.
ZNS would expand its current production land from the current 900 to 1, 300 hectares before the end of next year, which would translate to an annual production output of at least 10, 400 tonnes of wheat.